Couple plans to run a marathon and marry on the same day
Have you ever thought to yourself ‘I want to run a marathon the morning of my wedding.’ No? Well John Fritch and Shelley Fehrenbach are going to do just that on Saturday, October 19. That’s right, John and Shelley have registered for the Waddell & Reed Kansas City Marathon with Ivy Funds and plan to be married that night.
“Almost everyone tries to maintain a polite smile when they hear about our plans to run a marathon on our wedding day, but it’s obvious most people think we are nuts,” said Shelley. “We’ve had many people try to talk us out of doing the full, but marathoning is what we do. We love it.”
John and Shelley started dating the summer of 2012 when a mutual friend suggested they would be a great couple. They were long-time acquaintances and attended the same high school but really didn’t know each other. That summer Shelley was training for her first full marathon, which was supposed to be the Route 66 Marathon in November, but decided to run an earlier race. After a little research she found the Waddell & Reed KC Marathon. John decided to join Shelley for the marathon after logging only six weeks of training.
“After that (KC Marathon) we got hooked on running marathons and on each other,” said Shelley.
Date nights became carbo loading on Friday night before a long training run on the weekend with the Oklahoma City Landrunners organization. That’s right, John and Shelley are from Oklahoma City. So besides getting married the same day they both will run a marathon, they also decided to head out-of-town to get married.
“We decided it was only fitting to get married right where everything started – in Kansas City and on the same weekend a year later,” said Shelley. “We both loved Kansas City and it was close enough for our guests to get to, but still felt kind of like a destination for us, too.”
“It was my first full marathon and there truly is no feeling like crossing the finish line for the first time,” Shelley said. “It’s a feeling that anything is possible.”
She also enjoyed getting to know Kansas City and seeing something different and new with each mile. They both liked the crowd support, the signage and the fact the race felt like it was about the runners.
“I love KC and the fan support has been the best of all of the runs I have participated in thus far,” said John. “The KC Marathon will always be special to me.”
Currently over 30 wedding attendees are traveling to Kansas City and will participate in the race. Over half of them will either be tackling a new distance for the first time or have never participated in a race before. The couple hopes to have special T-shirts for their guests and Shelley is thinking of wearing all white with a veil clipped in her hair while John could be in all black.
Shelley is no stranger to running. Her first actual race was at the Rosary Oktoberfest when she was in grade school. It was a two-mile fun run that she ran every year as a kid. She then moved onto 5Ks and five miles in high school and college. Now she’s running half marathons, full marathons and 25Ks. John played football at the University of Kansas but has never really been into running until last year when Shelly inspired him.
“I have always worked out but to be honest, I really did not like running,” said John. “I always enjoyed weight training, cycling and would occasionally jog a bit to change things up.”
The running bug has bitten them so deep their goal is to become members of the 50 states club with several big races on the list like Boston, New York City, Big Sur and Disney World. In December they will be participating in the St. Jude’s Marathon in Memphis, which helps children’s cancer research. This year they both have completed two half marathons. Shelley has completed six marathons and John five. Before deciding on a race they read a lot of online reviews and try to space out their race weekends.
“I love to travel so any time I can tie in a new destination with a marathon, I am in,” said John.
Running hasn’t been smooth sailing for either of them. Shelley made the mistake of eating a pound of fruit and several tablespoons of almond butter the night before a 20 mile training run. The last six miles was a mix of running, walking and sitting on the curb.
John made the mistake of eating too much at Garozzo’s Ristorante the night before the KC Marathon and feels it was a minor miracle he survived the race without an issue. Shelley has also experienced lots of knee issues when she increased above 15 miles but after a lot of RICE therapy and Barre3 classes, she hasn’t had any knee or other injuries. John states his issues are too numerous to list so he just keeps moving, sometimes very slowly.
Despite the injuries, they both keep running because of the mental and physical health benefits. John says he is constantly amazed with some of the ideas generated during long runs.
What advice would they give to new runners?
“Don’t ever give up on a goal because of the time it will take to achieve it, because the time is going to pass regardless of what you do,” said Shelley. “Listen to your body, know your limited but also know that your mind will quit way before your body has to.”
“I really do believe you can accomplish anything you set your mind to, don’t deny yourself the opportunity to accomplish a goal you set for yourself,” said John. “Shelley shared a quote with me that says a lot – ‘life begins outside your comfort zone.’”
By Marla Hanover, Communications and Social Media Manager